Hi there, readers – Aly Miller here, coming to you from San Antonio, Texas. I’m here to answer a listener question from Lou’s inbox today! Johnathon writes:
“I enjoy listening to your Podcast. Last time we went to WDW as a family of 4 our daughter was 5 and our son was 2. It worked out perfect because my wife could ride with my daughter, and I could ride with my son. Since our last trip we have a new addition to the family. We are planning on going to WDW and staying on property at one of the value resorts. When we travel, our children will be 9, 5 and 2. Given that most rides are designed for 2 passengers, do you have any insight, suggestions, tips or tricks on going on the attractions with an odd number of children? Thanks, Johnathon”
Well Johnathon, I have traveled to WDW with odd numbers – and children – before, so I definitely understand your anxiety! There are a few different categories of ride vehicles that exist in Walt Disney World, so I will go through the main ones and give you a few strategies for each. I hope you find it helpful!
“One Tail” Vehicles: (example: Space Mountain) This attraction has room for 3 people in one vehicle, but one behind the other individually. Unless you have a very tall two-year-old, he probably won’t make the 44-inch minimum height. I would recommend one of you ride with the two older children, and if the kids want to ride again you can switch the toddler watching with your wife! Disney makes this easier with their Rider Swap program. Your whole group should be present, and you can tell the Cast Member at the front of the queue that you’d like to use Rider Swap. The Cast Member will give the waiting portion of your group a Rider Swap pass (which works like a FastPass) and the riding portion of your group will proceed through the line. Once that group is done, the other group can use their Rider Swap and enter through the FastPass queue.
“Two Tail” Vehicles – Fixed: (examples: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Expedition Everest, Goofy’s Barnstormer). This is the main category where you will have odd-number issues, because there is no way to get around the two-people-only nature of the ride vehicles. However, these are mainly found in attractions that have height restrictions – meaning that the 2 year old, unless he is extremely tall, will most likely not be able to ride many of them. My suggestion for this category is that you take one child while your wife waits with the other two, then swap out. You should be able to use the Rider Swap feature for some of these attractions. This would be a challenge for Barnstormer, which all three children are eligible to ride, unless your 9 year old is willing to go by himself (all children under 7 must have an adult with them).
“Two Tail” Vehicles – Flexible: (examples: Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Haunted Mansion, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Under The Sea). I have found that it’s possible – though not always comfortable – to fit three people into these vehicles. My suggestion would be to have the smaller adult ride with the 2 smallest children and the larger adult with the largest child. Peter Pan and Winnie The Pooh have 2 rows per vehicle, so all five of you should be able to share one pirate ship or honey pot. For the Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies, you would need two. A special note about Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin: you may be able to fit three people into one row of the vehicle, but there are only two guns. When my husband and I went with our two year old, one of us “helped him” with the gun since we were all in one row.
Other Types of Vehicles: (example: Astro Orbiter, Tomorrowland Speedway, Test Track) I recommend that you use the same style strategy for this as the “Two Tails – Fixed” vehicles, except that Rider Swap may not be available.
I did a quick scan of the list of attractions from the Walt Disney World theme parks and I don’t think your party will have challenges with attractions such as Mad Tea Party (should all fit in one teacup) or boat rides such as Pirates of the Carribean, “it’s a small world” or Jungle Cruise. On the same thought, all the theater-style shows will easily accommodate your entire party at once. The trucks on Kilmanjaro Safari can fit 6 across, so that will also not be an issue. One challenge your email didn’t mention but I tried to address here was height requirement, because although a ride like Dinosaur! or Soarin’ may be able to accommodate a party of five, the little one may not meet the height requirement. In that case, taking turns or using Rider Swap may be your best bet.
Hope you and your family have a wonderful time! If any readers have other suggestions or tricks for Johnathon, please feel free to share in the comments below!
Aly Miller is a lifelong Disney fanatic. She recently discovered the WDW Radio Podcast and became a member of the WDW Radio Nation. When she isn’t obsessing over all things Disney, she and her husband run Chad Miller Auto Care, an independent full service automotive repair shop in San Antonio, TX